A History Of The Holocaust
A History Of The Holocaust
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Holocaust Remembrance Day Proclamation
A History Of The Holocaust

The members of Living Springs recognize the Holocaust as an important event in history. We grieve the loss of over six million Jewish lives, as well as others, taken during the Holocaust. We stand in recognition of the great price paid to halt the regime responsible for these events.

We recognize and denounce calls for the destruction of the nation of Israel and the Jewish people. We stand firm against the continuing international trend to erode the sovereignty of Israel and the identity of the Jewish people.

We are grateful for the leadership the nation of Israel has and continues to provide, as well as the sacrifices they have made in the fight against terrorism, which threatens us all.

We would like to thank President Trump for finally fulfilling the promise that the US Embassy be moved to the eternal capital of Israel, which is the city of Jerusalem.

May God bless the Jewish people as they exercise their right to return to the land God gave them. For the good of all, may the world never repeat, and always remember, the tragedy of the Holocaust.

Holocaust Remembrance Day

April 8, 2021

Jewish Year 5781

Yom Ha-Shoah is a shortening from Yom Ha-Shoah Ve Hagevurah which means, "Devastation and Heroism Day" in Hebrew. In Israel the day was made a national public holiday in 1959, and in America we know the day as Holocaust Remembrance Day!

Holocaust Remembrance Day is a day that has been set aside for remembering the victims of the Holocaust and for reminding Americans of what can happen to civilized people when bigotry, hatred and indifference reign. The United States Holocaust Memorial Council, created by act of Congress in 1980, was mandated to lead the nation in civic commemorations and to encourage appropriate Remembrance observances throughout the country. Observances and Remembrance activities can occur during the week of Remembrance that runs from the Sunday before through the Sunday after the actual date.

Year 27th of Nisan Date for Yom Ha-Shoah
2016 Thursday, May 5 Thursday, May 5
2017 Sunday, April 23 Monday, April 24
2018 Thursday, April 12 Thursday, April 12
2019 Thursday, May 2 Thursday, May 2
2020 Tuesday, April 21 Tuesday, April 21
2021 Friday, April 9 Thursday, April 8
2022 Thursday, April 28 Thursday, April 28
2023 Tuesday, April 18 Tuesday, April 18
2024 Sunday, May 5 Monday, May 6

While there are obvious religious aspects to such a day, it is not a religious observance as such. The internationally-recognized date comes from the Hebrew calendar and corresponds to the 27th day of Nisan on that calendar. That is the date on which Israel commemorates the victims of the Holocaust. When the actual date of Yom Ha-Shoah falls on a Friday (as will happen in 2021) the state of Israel, following the Knesset legislation establishing the event, observes Yom Ha-Shoah on the preceding Thursday. When it falls on a Sunday (as happened in 2014), Yom Ha-Shoah observances happen on the following Monday. In 1961 a law was passed in Israel which closed all public entertainment on Yom Ha-Shoah, and at ten in the morning, a siren is sounded. Everyone stops what they are doing, people pull over in their cars, and all stand in remembrance of the over 6,000,000 Jewish victims as well as other murdered during the Holocaust!

"While not all victims were Jews, all Jews were victims."
Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel

Elie Wiesel

2021 Torchlighters

Each year six torches are lit in memory of the six million Jews who were murdered during the Holocaust. Their wartime experiences reflect the central theme chosen by Yad Vashem for Holocaust Remembrance Day. The torches are lit during the central memorial ceremony held at Yad Vashem on the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Manya Bigunov

Manya Bigunov was born in 1927 in the Ukrainian city of Teplyk, the youngest of Nahum and Frima's three children.

In June 1941, immediately after their invasion of the Soviet Union, the Germans began shooting hundreds of thousands of Jews at hundreds of murder sites. In July, the Germans occupied Teplyk, and sent residents from the city to forced labor, including Manya and her mother. On 27 May 1942, the Germans rounded up some of the camp workers, including Manya and her mother, and began loading them onto trucks. After Frima was placed on a truck, one of the Germans slammed Manya against a wall and she lost consciousness, remaining motionless on the ground. The trucks drove to the nearby forest, where all the Jews on the trucks were unloaded and shot to death, including Frima.

After she regained consciousness, Manya was transferred to different labor camps. She escaped from one of the camps with her friend Esther, and they returned to Teplyk. There Manya found her father among a group of Jewish professionals who were being held by the Germans for work purposes. The group paid a local man to lead Manya and her friend to the Bershad ghetto in Transnistria, where they arrived in September 1942. In the ghetto, they had to cope with harsh living conditions, hunger and cold. In the winter, Manya fell ill with typhus. In 1943, Nahum came to the ghetto, but died of illness in February 1944, three weeks before the area was liberated by the Red Army.

Following liberation, Manya returned to Teplyk, where she was reunited with her brother and sister. Manya married Naftoli Bigun, who served in the Red Army and survived in POW camps by concealing his Jewish identity. When Naftoli returned from captivity, he was imprisoned by the Soviets, former prisoners being considered traitors by the Soviet regime. It was not until 1954, after Stalin's death, that Naftoli was released, but he died in 1961 at the age of 39. Manya worked as a nurse in a hospital, raising her daughter Edit alone.

After the war, Manya worked tirelessly to preserve the memory of the Jews of Teplyk who were murdered in the Holocaust. She immediately began to write about the experiences of her Jewish community. She described every house where Jews lived before the war, and wrote down the names and stories of all the Jewish occupants of each house, and if they survived, their experiences after the war. The information, including a diagram of the town, was transferred to the Yad Vashem Archives. Manya filled dozens of Pages of Testimony commemorating the people of Teplyk. She wrote articles about her community, and published them in the Russian press. She was also active in a group that erected a monument to the Jews of Teplyk and held memorial ceremonies there.

In 1992, Manya immigrated to Israel with her daughter and two granddaughters. Manya Bigunov has told her story to thousands of schoolchildren, students and teachers.

Yossi Chen

Yossi Chen was born in 1936 in the town of Lachwa, Poland (now Lakhva, Belarus), the eldest son of Dov Berl and Chaya Sara Chinitz. In July 1941, the Germans occupied Lachwa and on Passover eve 1942, all the town's Jews were ordered to move into the ghetto. Many of the ghetto's inmates, including Yossi's grandmother, died of starvation, overcrowding and epidemics.

In August 1942, the Jews in the ghetto learned of the liquidation of nearby ghettos and the use of ghetto laborers to dig pits near the town. Rumors circulated that the ghetto residents were about to be murdered. Earlier, the ghetto youths had organized an underground, with the knowledge and support of the Judenrat [ghetto Jewish council].

When the ghetto inhabitants were rounded up to be taken for execution, an uprising broke out during which the Judenrat called on the ghetto Jews to flee to the forests. This was one of the only uprisings in the history of the Holocaust carried out by the young people of the community in full cooperation with the Judenrat. The majority of the thousand Jews who tried to flee were shot and killed. Amid the tumult of the shooting and the inferno, six-year-old Yossi fled to the forests. "Thanks to that revolt, I am alive today," says Yossi.

Yossi's mother and younger brother Moshe were caught and murdered. Yossi became separated from his father and escaped alone into the swamps. After about an hour, he found his uncle, Hersh Leib. The next day, the two found Dov Berl. They forced their way through the swamps in an attempt to reach the partisans. Suddenly they heard a shot, and Hersh Leib let go of Yossi's hand. It was the worst moment Yossi remembers: His uncle had been murdered by a Pole who ambushed the fugitives in order to rob them.

Yossi and his father hid in haystacks, swamps and forests, drank water from pits and swamps and ate berries until they found the partisans and joined them.

At the end of 1943, the Germans and their aides launched a manhunt for the partisans. Yossi and Dov Berl moved around on foot and in sledges in the forests of Belarus, hungry and frozen. They improvised shoes from cowhide straps, and garments from pieces of coarse cloth. When Yossi fell ill, he was put on a sledge, wrapped in rags and piles of snow to keep his body warm, and given spoons of soup until he recovered.

When he was strong enough, Yossi was instructed to obtain food from the farmers in the area. He excelled in navigating and orienting himself in the forests, and even helped older people reach their destinations. Several times he encountered the Germans, but always managed to escape. "We were like cockroaches running away from place to place," remembers Yossi.

In July 1944, Yossi and Dov Berl were liberated by the Red Army. They moved west to the DP camps. In July 1947, the two boarded the Exodus illegal immigrant ship, but the British detained the ship and the passengers were rerouted to Europe and forcibly unloaded at the port of Hamburg in Germany. In August 1948, Yossi and Dov Berl immigrated to Israel.

Yossi was a senior commander in the IDF's intelligence unit and worked for the Mossad. He wrote a study on the activities of the Mossad in pursuing Nazi War Criminals, of which only a part was allowed to be published.

Yossi and Nechama have three daughters and nine grandchildren.

Sara Fishman

Sara Fishman (née Berkovich) was born in 1927 in Neresnice, in the Transcarpathia region of Czechoslovakia (today Neresnytsya, Ukraine), to a Hasidic family of ten.

In April 1944, tensions rose in the area, and ghettos began to be established. Sarah's father Gedalia David sent her and her two older sisters, Hinda and Rivka, to relatives in Budapest, Hungary, but they did not reach their destination. After a short ride, they were taken off the train and transported to the Halmi ghetto, where they were gathered at the local synagogue. The local rabbi shouted the prayer "Our Father and King" before the members of the community were put on trains and taken to the Nagyszollos ghetto. Every year, during the recitation of the prayer "Our Father and King" during the Ten Days of Repentance, Sara emotionally recalls the rabbi's desperate entreaty.

Sara and her sisters were sent from Nagyszollos to Auschwitz. After the selection, women with shaven heads were heard shouting across the fence: "Throw us what you have! A handkerchief! Soap! In any case, they will soon take everything!" One of the prisoners threw a stone at them, with a note attached. The note read that the smoke they saw from the chimney was their parents. Sara and her sisters thought they were crazy.

In Auschwitz, Sara and her sisters were reunited with their younger sister Pnina, but their sister Hinda fell ill and was taken to the infirmary barracks. By this time, Sara had been in Auschwitz long enough to realize that whoever was hospitalized there would not come out alive. Sara never saw Hinda again.

Sara worked cleaning the showers and clearing the valuables the Jews were forced to leave there before they were sent to the gas chambers. She underwent a selection, following which she was separated from her two sisters and sent by train to forced labor outside Auschwitz. One day, she rummaged through the bins in search of food, even though this risked the death penalty, and found a thin apple peel.

She distributed the peel to her ten friends. Each was given a very small piece, "to revive the soul for a moment," explained Sara. The next day she rummaged in the same bin again and found a thicker peel. Each day, the peel was thicker. One day Sara saw a woman peeking out of a nearby house window watching the inmates scavenging for the peels.

Sara was sent to a weapons factory located inside a salt mine in the town of Bendorf. She and her friends fell ill and bled constantly due to the subterranean working conditions. From there she was transferred to Bergen-Belsen, and after three months was placed in a packed wagon and transported for three weeks with no destination. Occasionally, the guards removed some of the women from the wagons, shots were heard, and the women did not return. Sara and the rest of the passengers were finally taken off the train in a wooded area. Their German guards disappeared, and the prisoners realized that they were free.

Sara was sent to Sweden for rehabilitation, where she remained for six months. She learned that two of her sisters had survived - the two who were with her in Auschwitz - and returned to Czechoslovakia. The three were the only survivors of their family.

In Czechoslovakia, Sara was trained to use weapons, and in early 1949 immigrated to Israel on an arms ship. She served in the IDF during the War of Independence. In Israel, Sara set up a successful knitting factory.

Sara has been telling her story for years to thousands of people, both in person and through online meetings.

Sara and Yoel z"l have two children, five grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

Halina Friedman

Halina Friedman was born in Lodz, Poland in 1933, the only child of her parents Wolf and Anna Herling, who were prosperous merchants. Anna spoke fluent German, had an "Aryan" appearance, and was a practical and resourceful woman - which would help her save Halina and other family members during the Holocaust.

With the conquest of Poland, Anna sewed a considerable amount of money into the hem of Halina's dress, and the family fled to Warsaw. When the ghetto was sealed at the end of 1940, the family was confined inside, where they lived with Anna's sister's family in one apartment. From the apartment window, Halina could see bodies lying on the ground. "The memory of hungry people in the streets and bodies carried off in carts has always stayed with me," says Halina. Wolf and Anna were put to work in a factory that repaired uniforms for the German Army, and Halina was placed in a kindergarten set up for the workers' children.

One day, during the Great Aktion in the summer of 1942, the children were taken out to a nearby spot and shot at by machine gun. Halina fell, but was not injured. She lay among the dozens of dead children, covered in their blood, sensing that she should not move. Only at night, after the murderers had left, did she return home. After this harrowing incident, her parents prepared a hiding place for her in their home.

The family was rounded up with the Jews of the area, but managed to escape. Halina hid with her grandfather in a nearby bakery. From their hiding place, she heard screams and shots. Anna bribed a German wagon driver, and the next morning she managed to smuggle Halina and her grandfather home.

On the eve of Passover 1943, the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising broke out. "We had a symbolic Seder night in a bunker in the ghetto, as the street next to us went up in flames," recalls Halina. A Polish youth named Jerzy Kozminski was sneaking food into the ghetto through the sewers, and Halina's mother became friends with him. Jerzy bribed an SS officer, and he brought an elegant car to smuggle the family out of the ghetto.

The family members were taken out of the ghetto in pairs, in the trunk of the car. "During the escape and for many days after it, we saw huge, frightening flames from the burning ghetto," says Halina. Her mother and father were the last to leave, but were caught following a tip-off. Wolf managed to escape, but Anna was deported to Auschwitz, where she was murdered.

For some 18 months, Halina and her remaining family members were hidden in a camouflaged bunker at the home of Jerzy and his stepmother Teresa Kozminska, later Ruth (Renia) Linder. In 1965, Jerzy and Teresa were recognized as Righteous Among the Nations.

During the Polish Uprising in Warsaw in the summer of 1944, the area was a battlefield and was constantly bombed. The Germans evacuated the entire area, includingTeresa's family. Teresa sometimes snuck back to bring some food to the bunker occupants, but Halina and her family starved until the city was liberated in January 1945 by the Red Army.

In 1950, Halina immigrated to Israel. She volunteered for the Eran (Emotional First Aid) organization for 35 years, trained hundreds of volunteers in aid organizations, and led groups of disabled IDF soldiers.

Halina and Abraham z"l, also a Holocaust survivor, have three children (Moshe, Oded and Gal-Zeev z"l), seven grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

Zehava Gealel

Zehava Gealel was born in 1935 in The Hague, the Netherlands, the middle of Jocheved and Zeev Stahl's three children. The family owned a kosher dairy products store.

In 1942, two years after the conquest of the Netherlands, when Dutch police accompanied by Germans arrived to take the family members into custody before internment in the Netherlands pending deportation, Zeev claimed that all his children had a contagious disease. The Germans accompanied Zeev to the doctor to obtain medical confirmation of this claim. When the doctor saw Zeev's pale face, he understood what was happening and corroborated Zeev's account. Zehava, Jocheved and Zehava's two brothers Arthur-Abraham and Josef (Josi) thus evaded this deportation, but Zeev was deported to Auschwitz, where he was murdered.

Thanks to documents sent by Zehava's grandfather in the United States, the family members were granted Romanian citizenship, and were defined as political prisoners. At the end of 1942, Zehava, her mother and brothers were imprisoned in the Westerbork transit camp, and in May 1943 they were transferred to the Amersfoort concentration camp. One of the Jewish prisoners organized the children in a choir and taught them songs in Hebrew and German. They stood in front of the pavilion and sang; when there were Germans in the vicinity, they sang in German, and the rest of the time they sang in Hebrew. It was their only occupation. In June 1943, Zehava, her brothers and her mother were returned to Westerbork, and in April 1944 they were transferred to the Ravensbrück concentration camp in Germany. There they were stripped and put in a common shower; each child was left with only one garment.

"The mothers and children were required to stand in line three times a day, in the cold of winter, wearing thin clothes, without uttering a word, as if it were obvious that this was the way to behave," recounts Zehava. "The fear was so great that no child cried, even in the harshest conditions." While Jocheved worked in forced labor, Zehava took care of her three-year-old brother Josi.

In the winter of 1944-1945, the family members were placed on a train, without food or water. The train got stuck on a bombed-out railroad track, and its members were taken off and marched to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.

"There was almost nothing to eat," Zehava says. "Mother and I worked collecting and stacking corpses to earn another slice of bread for the family. My brother and I searched the camp for burnt pieces of wood, and gave them to people suffering from diarrhea." Zehava, her mother and brother remained in the camp, suffering from sickness and famine, until liberation in April 1945.

In March 1948, Zehava immigrated to Eretz Israel (Mandatory Palestine). At the age of 17, she began studying at the Nursing School at Shaare Zedek Medical Center, and then worked in the operating room and as the private nurse of Israeli President Yitzhak Ben-Zvi.

Zehava and Abraham had three children. Their son David was killed in a car accident during military reserve service. Their son Zeev died of a heart attack at the age of 61.

For the past 50 years, Zehava has been a nurse at Chaim Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer, continuing to work even after her retirement. She has received medals of excellence and awards for her service. Her dedication to her work and the sick are seen by her as a victory over the evil and human suffering she experienced as a child, and as a source of comfort in her bereavement.

Shmuel Naar

Shmuel Naar was born in 1924 in Thessaloniki, Greece, to a family of 11 people. His father Shlomo was a journalist for local Jewish newspapers. Shmuel attended the Jewish school in Thessaloniki, and later the Alliance High School, but he did not get to complete his studies there. In the spring of 1941, the Germans occupied Thessaloniki and persecution against Jews began, during which Shmuel's father was brutally beaten. He later died from his injuries. In July 1942, Shmuel witnessed the events of "Black Sabbath": "Thousands of Jewish men were taken to a square near the port and we were forced to stand in the summer heat all day long." Thousands were taken for forced labor and hundreds of Jews were murdered.

In early 1942, the city's Jews were confined in the Baron Hirsch ghetto, and in March 1943 they were deported, mostly to Auschwitz. After eight days of traveling in crowded and airless carriages without water or toilets, Shmuel arrived at Auschwitz. During the selection he tried to join his mother, but was violently separated from her. He was showered and his body hair shaved. When he asked the camp veterans where his family members were, they pointed to the smoke coming out of the crematoria. "I have never done anything bad to anyone," he thought. "My only sin is that I am a Jew."

Shmuel survived a year in Auschwitz, almost completely isolated from any Greek or Ladino speaker. Because the orders were given in German, he found it difficult to understand them, and was beaten constantly for "evading work." He managed to impersonate a barber, then a locksmith, and was eventually hired as an apprentice to a German engineer. "When the Allied planes were bombing," recalls Shmuel, "the German crew would hide. I rarely hid, because I was likely to die anyway."

In January 1945, Shmuel was forced on a death march. He walked in rain and snow, wearing only a thin shirt. He finally arrived at the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. Prisoners were not provided with food, and typhus raged. Bodies were piled up everywhere, with nowhere to bury them. In April 1945, he was liberated by the British Army. "I could not be happy," says Shmuel. "I already felt like I was dead."

Shmuel returned to Greece and began looking for relatives, but his entire family had been murdered in the Holocaust. In November 1945, he boarded the Berl Katzenelson illegal immigrant ship bound for Eretz Israel (Mandatory Palestine). As the ship approached land, a British destroyer discovered it. A Mossad escort of the ship instructed the immigrants to swim to shore if they could, to avoid being taken to a detention camp. When Shmuel heard the word "camp," he immediately jumped into the icy water and swam to shore.

Shmuel fought in the War of Independence in the ranks of the Givati ??Brigade, on the Negev front. "Being alone in the world, it would not be terrible if I was killed," he told himself. After that, Shmuel fought in all the wars of Israel until (and including) the Yom Kippur War as a combat medic. Shmuel was employed in forestry work by the Jewish National Fund. He then started a small business, where he worked with his wife until the age of 90.

Shmuel and Miriam have three children, ten grandchildren and eleven great-grandchildren.

Read about past years' Torchlighters

Torchlighters pictures and bios courtesy of Yad Vashem The Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority.

A History Of The Holocaust

If you would like to make a donation to help Jews still suffering from anti-Semitism and poverty today, you can do so by visiting www.ifcj.org THANK YOU!

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